Tory MPs have begged the Brexit Party to stand aside in their seats amid fears it could split the vote, the party’s chairman has claimed.
Richard Tice said he had received ‘numerous’ pleas from Tory MPs. One texted him to warn that their seat could fall to the Remain-supporting Liberal Democrats in the election.
They said that they were a Brexiteer and therefore should be spared, Mr Tice said.
The Brexit Party is understood to have vetted 600 candidates and will field them in most seats across the country – except Northern Ireland.
However, there have been calls from some Brexiteers for an informal electoral ‘pact’ between Nigel Farage’s party and the Tories. Downing Street has so far rejected the idea.
Nigel Farage, pictured in Strasbourg, France, last week, has offered Boris Johnson an election pact if the PM backs a No Deal Brexit
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Mr Tice urged the Government to form an alliance with his party as soon as a General Election is called.
He predicted that a ‘Leave alliance’ between Mr Farage and Boris Johnson would deliver a ‘thumping election victory’.
The MEP said: ‘We have made a generous offer to the PM, that if you stand for a clean-break Brexit, we will stand down and not fight with your candidates.’
However, he was reluctant to say whether Mr Farage’s party would stand candidates if Mr Johnson campaigned during the election on the basis of his Brexit deal.
He said: ‘We will not negotiate live on air. We will negotiate with the Conservatives.’
Asked if the party would place candidates in every constituency if Mr Johnson asks voters to back his new deal, Mr Farage said: ‘We will discuss that over the next couple of days.’
But Mr Johnson, pictured in Downing Street today, is going to fight the next election on a pledge to deliver his Brexit deal
The Brexit Party leader has repeatedly offered Mr Johnson an electoral pact if the PM changed tack and backed a No Deal ‘clean break’ departure.
But with Mr Johnson seemingly set on fighting a pre-Christmas election on a vow to implement the deal he has struck with Brussels the stage is set for a showdown at the ballot box between the Tories and the Brexit Party.
If the two parties do not agree to a pact then they could take vital votes away from each other in key constituencies and allow a pro-EU party to come through the middle and win. That could scupper Mr Johnson’s hopes of winning a majority.
However, today Mr Farage suggested that even if Mr Johnson pushes ahead with his plan the Brexit Party may not contest every seat.
Asked by MailOnline if the Brexit Party will stand candidates in every constituency if Mr Johnson asks voters to back his new deal, Mr Farage said: ‘We will discuss that over the next couple of days.’
MailOnline understands that the Brexit Party currently has just over 450 candidates in place for the next election with more to come.
But with an election now probably just a matter of weeks away it looks increasingly unlikely that the party will be able to field a full slate of candidates to contest all 650 constituencies across the UK.
Where could the Brexit Party turn the screw on the Tories at the election?
If there is no pact between the Conservative Party and the Brexit Party ahead of the next election the two will pitch candidates against each other in potentially hundreds of seats.
That could cost Boris Johnson victory in numerous constituencies, with a split Leave vote potentially leaving the door open for Labour and the Lib Dems to come through the middle and win.
The Brexit Party is likely to focus its resources on 100 Leave-voting seats across south Wales, the Midlands and the north of England.
Many of those seats are currently held by Labour and have not had a Tory MP for decades.
The Brexit Party will be hopeful of emerging as the main challenger to Labour in those seats.
But victory in such areas is likely to be key to Mr Johnson’s electoral strategy.
By campaigning on a pro-Brexit ticket Mr Johnson will need to unite as many Leave voters behind him as possible to keep the keys to 10 Downing Street.
Mr Farage’s presence in those areas could well scupper Mr Johnson’s hopes of winning a majority.
It came as pro-Brexit campaigners told Mr Farage and Mr Johnson to ‘get their sh** together’ and agree an election pact to avoid splitting the Leave vote at a forthcoming snap poll.
Mr Farage said voters would have a ‘series of choices’ to make when the nation goes to the ballot box.
‘They can vote for a party that wants to revoke, they can vote for a party that wants to have a second referendum, they can vote for a party that wants a new EU treaty or they can vote for a party which wants a clean break,’ he told MailOnline.
‘So it is going to be a full menu.’
Mr Farage did not rule out the possibility of last-ditch talks with the Tories to try to strike an election pact but he appeared to be downbeat on the prospect.
He said: ‘I just don’t know but I think if he [Mr Johnson] is going to fight the general election on the basis of that treaty then I think as a Leaver it is very difficult.’
He added: ‘We will see what happens. I am not ruling anything in, not ruling anything out.
‘But it would appear he wants to fight the election on the basis of that treaty which I just don’t think is Brexit. But that may change.’
Richard Tice, the chairman of the Brexit Party, told the BBC this morning that the ‘generous offer’ of a pact with the Tories was still on the table.
He said his preference was for there to be a ‘Leave alliance’ but that the Brexit Party will not let the Tories ‘sell this country down the river with a really bad deal’.
Asked if the party would stand candidates against the Conservative Party, Mr Tice said: ‘If necessary. It is not our preference, but if necessary we will stand up and down the country.’
The Leave.EU campaign group is urging the two parties to try to find a way to work together.
But it is developing a tactical voting app just in case they don’t so that Leave voters know which pro-Brexit candidate has the best chance of winning in any seat.
A source told The Times that the app could frighten the two parties into doing a deal.
‘Both the Brexit Party and the Tory party need to get their sh** together,’ the source said.
Leave.EU said the app would help the 17.4 million people who backed Brexit in 2016 to ‘reunite at the next election and crush the Remainers’.
‘If the Brexit Party and the Tories refuse to make a pact, we’ll make one for them…’ the group said.
Leave.EU founder Arron Banks has told the Tories and Brexit Party to ‘get a grip’ and do a deal to avoid splitting the Eurosceptic vote on polling day
The Leave.EU campaign group said it is developing a strategic voting app to help Brexit voters know who to vote for
Yesterday Mr Johnson was forced to accept a Brexit delay to January 31 despite having said he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than see the UK’s departure date pushed back again.
Leave.EU has blamed the delay on ‘our rotten Remain Parliament’ rather than the Prime Minister and insisted that ‘we must drain the swamp’ at an election.
Arron Banks, one of the founders of Leave.EU and a former Ukip donor, has signalled his support for Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal as he split from his long-time political ally Mr Farage who is vehemently opposed to it.
Responding to speculation that Mr Tice could contest Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat at the next election, Mr Banks said the two parties needed to ‘get a grip’.
He tweeted: ‘Brexit party pressure got Boris Johnson elected as Tory party leader and looks like they are parking their tanks on his lawn.
‘Leave.EU have been calling for a sensible arrangement with the Tories to avoid splitting the vote. Both parties should get a grip! Good lord!’